Publication: Issued: Date: 2003-09-19 Reporter: Sapa

Ngcuka 'Apartheid Spy' Claims Probed



Date 2003-09-19



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A judicial commission headed by a retired judge is to probe claims that National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka was an apartheid era spy, the government said on Thursday.

Cabinet decided on Wednesday that such a commission should urgently address the allegations which had featured in the media, government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe told reporters.

"We want to ensure that within a matter of weeks findings can be made. We don't want a situation where a unit is debilitated by allegations."

Justice Minister Penuell Maduna was expected to announce the name of the retired judge, as well as the terms of reference of the probe, on Friday.

The allegations first featured in City Press earlier this month, and were then confirmed by former transport minister Mac Maharaj. Ngcuka has indicated he would sue both Maharaj and the paper for defamation.

Netshitenzhe said the government did not want such matters to be dealt with through the media, but rather through the relevant state agencies.

"If you do that then anyone else can stand up and say they have got information about anyone else, and lynch mobs might then emerge within society to try and deal with these matters."

A Cabinet statement said: "Our own historical experience as well as that of other countries has shown that handling such matters in a disorderly and selective manner, can push nations on to a slippery slope of mutual recrimination and subversion of human rights...

"The government eschews, as a matter of principle, treating such complex and sensitive matters through the media. I also seeks to avoid witch-hunts, taking into account the intricate struggle to forge a new nation."

Netshitenzhe said any state should deal with such matters in a professional manner.

"That's what we're urging should happen."

He urged people with information about the specific case, to pass it on to the commission.

People who had information of this nature - including information pertaining to gross human rights violations committed under apartheid for which amnesty was not sought and/or granted from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission - should pass it on to the state structures.

"If we have information that might strengthen our democracy, that might help us unravel what happened in the past or in this instance, regarding the NDPP, we should pass it on to the intelligence agencies...

"They know how to handle these matters..."

Responding to a question, Netshitenzhe said he did not believe that appointing a judicial commission to investigate Ngcuka's case was setting a precedent.

"We had to deal with this specific instance," he said.

"The government was faced with the reality of something that is already under debate amongst the public relating to a head of a unit dealing with many sensitive matters.

"In order to ensure this matter is brought to rest, it was necessary to very, very urgently ensure that a commission is established so it could determine what the truth of the matter is."

The government was convinced that the allegations did not emanate from its intelligence agencies, Netshitenzhe said.

"As you know, there are individuals commenting and pronouncing on this matter claiming they have worked for the ANC intelligence before 1994.

"...It is critical that all of us should have confidence in our formal state structures, including intelligence..."

With acknowledgements to Sapa and